If you are unable to work due to illness or injury for a year or more, you may consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits. The unfortunate reality is that the large majority (over 70%) of those who apply for these benefits have their claims denied, even after paying into the Social Security system for many years. Although some of these disabled workers may be approved for benefits at a later stage in the appeals process, this can involve a long, stressful wait. Luckily, there is one thing you can do to increase the chances that your claim will be approved, and that is to hire a qualified Social Security Disability lawyer to assist you throughout the process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits.
If you’re concerned about whether or not you can afford to hire a disability attorney, don’t be.
Social Security Disability lawyers work on a contingent fee basis. This means that they are only paid if, and when, you are granted Social Security benefits. If your claim isn’t approved at any point in the process, you won’t pay them. There’s no upfront cost to hire a top disability lawyer. When you hire your attorney, you’ll sign a “contingency fee agreement” that will set forth the exact terms of their payment. These fee agreements are reviewed, and must be approved by, the Social Security Administration (SSA,) but do be sure that you carefully read it before signing, and ask questions if there’s anything that you don’t completely understand.
The one exception to this rule is if your attorney incurs any extra costs while representing you. If this happens, they could require you to pay these upfront, or bill you for them (this should be clearly explained in your fee agreement.) This doesn’t include routine expenses for things such as paper and long distances phone calls, but rather charges for things like copies of your medical records and reports from your doctors. Your Social Security attorney should always ask you before paying any expenses that you will be responsible for. In most cases, all medical records can be received for free, and the client doesn’t end up having to pay any additional expenses.
If you are awarded Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA will decide as of what date you became disabled. This is usually around the time that you stopped working, but could be after that time if the SSA determines that your condition worsened at a later date. This date will be clearly noted in the decision you receive. If you are found disabled at least six months prior to the date your application is granted, you will likely be paid a lump sum for your past-due benefits, and this is the amount that is used to calculate your Social Security Disability attorney’s fee.
Your Social Security Disability attorney’s fee will be 25%, of your back benefits, and this is often paid to them directly from the SSA. However, the fee is capped at $6,000, no matter how much in past-due benefits you receive.